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Steven Wilson - Insurgentes CD (album) cover


Steven Wilson


Crossover Prog

3.83 | 1160 ratings

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3 stars 3.5 Stars. Dark new beginning

Insurgentes was a big surprise to most fans of SW. While he had produced solo material via IEM and Bass Communion, they were created only so that Wilson could project his more experimental and obscure ideas elsewhere. However Porcupine Tree was his main band that was centered on delivering forward thinking Prog Rock. So why do the same thing under his own name?

Well it seemed Wilson wanted to make a Prog album where he called the shots and was allowed to pursue new ideas that did not really fit under the PT umbrella (even though Insurgentes would have passed as a PT album if he really wanted to). Those new ideas were using his dark and textured BC music and combining it with Wilson's brand of Prog. He has stated many times that he is extremely fond of this album and was surprised that it has received such a mixed/indifferent reaction among fans and critics.

I can understand where Wilson is coming from. This is one of the most original albums he has produced and very forward thinking. There is a lot of dark ambient music to be found here, which can often burst into very harsh and industrial sounding noise. And when I say noise that's all it is, there is no melody or tune, it is just a constant boom of piercing sound. This is not a friendly album whatsoever and along with The Incident (which is very similar to Insurgentes in mood, production and the techniques used) it is the darkest material he has ever made.

So with all this originality and very inspired ideas what was the problem? Why is it not being that warmly received from not just most people but also myself? Well part of the problem is that it is far less accessible compared to most SW albums and so there was a bit of a shock from some part of the fan-base. But beyond that there are some severe flaws to this album.

Wilson is at his best when he makes a album that flows coherently from start to finish which makes us feel like we are going on a journey and makes the album greater than the sum of its parts. Insurgentes does not do that. Most of the songs are slow, bleak and just plod on for a very long time without supporting each other. While the songs themselves are very detailed and textured and a jewel to sound engineers, they just get weary after a while. Some of these songs are better than others. Abandoner, Salvaging and Veneno Para Las Hadas are the best of his dark industrial and ambient songs, with Salvaging having a good amount of Prog into the mix. But some of his other tracks such as Only Child and Twilight Coda are no better than filler. There is a reason why many people seem to fall asleep listening to this album, it all tends to blend into a blur of depressing and never-ending music.

Its important to note that he does have some alternative songs that change the mood of the album for the better. Harmony Korine and Significant Other sound very much like 2000 era PT and provide a nice and somewhat lighter change of pace. The title track also makes for a gentle and warm closer. No Twilight is a strong track in its own right, but its inclusion onto this album was a huge mistake. Unlike all the other songs it is fast faced, very aggressive and has clear nods to the Crimson inspired Prog that would be explored on GfD. It sounds totally jarring and messes up the flow of the album. Especially when Veneno Para Las Hadas was the previous track which is so slow that I often play it just to literally fall asleep.

I personally view Insurgentes as a brief phase SW went though when he produced this album and The Incident, where he was trying to remove most of the light in his music and only leave the bleakness and gloom (and metal as far as The Incident is concerned). Despite the great ideas present it never really gets going for me and is below average for his high standard. He does later on manage to use the dark textures found here to better effect on GfD where with the 70s Prog influences he creates a unique album with a fantastic sense of natural flow. If this album was not from Wilson I would probably give this 4 stars. But as I am a big fan boy and probably give him too many 4/5 star reviews I will be harsher here and give him 3, simply because he can do better than this. Still a solid album and well worth getting, but don't put it high on your to-buy list. Get GfD and especially The Raven first. I would also rate The Incident above this album if you want to listen to his darker material.

LakeGlade12 | 3/5 |


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